SA helo crew and ops medics to the rescue after IED goes off


South African military aviation and medical expertise were again to the fore stabilising and evacuating injured Congolese soldiers in combined effort which drew praise and thanks from the local FARDC (Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo) commander.

The South Africans, all based at Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) operating as the combined helicopter unit (CHU) of the SA Air Force (SAAF) and a SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) level 1 detachment, were called for assistance after an IED (improved explosive device) incident injured Congolese soldiers at Tchabi in Ituri province.

“The Congolese soldiers were busy with the daily tasking of ensuring civilians are safe from illegal armed groups,” RSABATT (South African battalion in DRC) public information officer Major A Cengani reports.

“The call for help came after a soldier stepped on a hidden IED. Specialists, better known as operational emergency care practitioners (OECPs) were, as is the norm, the first to response. Led by Captain (Dr) John Sekonyela, the team with experience in combat medical assistance are that breed of soldier whose work necessitates a special breed of courage.

“Their skills are often taken for granted until the life-or-death moment when they are called on to go selflessly into the heart of a combat situation to risk their own lives for others.

“Swift response by medical personnel and the Oryx crew to save the lives of friendly force soldiers was a life and death decider,” according to Cengani.

The injured FARDC soldiers were stabilised and evacuated to the South African level 1 hospital at Goma with the local FARDC commander thanking the South African team for assisting his soldiers with medical care and air transport.